Hailing from Birmingham 96.chsa is a film photographer and artist finding his greatest inspiration through his friends and "their mad antics". His latest project Second City Sinners showcases the the "unusual & unseen" areas of the City documenting what really goes on underneath the surface level. We sat down with him to talk about how it all started, experience and advice for new comers to photography...
Where did your vision start and how did it progress?
I’ve always been interested in art and stuff from young my mom used to paint cool stuff on our bedroom walls when we were kids and I guess that’s where I got my artistic flair from (if you’d call it that) Photography only really became a thing for me as I turned 18, back then it was disposables with only 1 or 2 pics being decent per roll, with the help of Poundland and Boots (if you know you know) it was quite easy to take hundreds of photos without many of them ever being good but I guess as film prices went up I started to value each shot a lot more especially now when you break it down it’s almost £2 a photo after dev and film costs. Anything digital that’s unlucky enough to find itself in my hands ends up breaking and all memories are lost with it so 35mm was the answer as it came with hardcopies, scans & negs. I think if u love something you have a drive to wanna know everything about it and be the best you can with said skills.
Tell us about your latest project Second City Sinners?
Second City Sinners was just the last year and half of my photography here in Brum, I like taking pics of the unusual & unseen with the nice bits of the city in-between. In comparison to my other zines its A4 instead of A5, a few more people opened up and let me take photos of their drugs and stuff but really it’s just documentation of what’s beneath the surface here. I feel that my work is quite the polar opposite of how they want Brum to be seen with the Common Wealth games and all but it’s the reality behind the now cleaned up streets.
How has living in your local area shaped your photography?
I guess there’s a lot of abandoned buildings to explore and fuck around in, it’s easy to lose days rinsing rolls of film & painting inside them, soon they’ll be knocked down and replaced with unaffordable apartments. I live close to the centre so I’m walking distance from a lot of things and I like to go outside and see what’s happening. If I lived else where I guess it would just be more photos of nature and stuff or whatever’s weird and wonderful there, I take loads of pics wherever I go though!
Your creativity has stemmed into different spaces including graffiti and art work. Is there an underlying message that you always try to convey within your creative outlets?
I don’t really think I have an underlying message within my work, photography’s my way of capturing memories, graffiti is a way of putting your art out there for the public whether they like it or not, I see it as a way to break up long walks home, both of them are an itch that’s never satisfied, I always have a camera and some form of mark making tool on me even if I don’t have a pen to hand there’s something around I can use to scratch into a surface at least. My collage and illustrative side of art is just an expression of how I feel at the time.
Who Influences you and your work the most? Is there a specific artist you would class as your idol?
People such as Boogie, The London Vagabond & Pablondon2 but locally it would be 0121dillon, rob.the.bastard & cremeske their photos made me wanna go outside and get pics as sick as theirs, I idolise my friends as they’re my greatest inspiration, without their mad antics I feel my photos would be pretty average, I reckon most of your heroes online are nerds in person. (None of the ones listed above obviously)
Has there been a particular experience in any one of your projects that stands out amongst the others?
I don’t really know what this means but if you mean if there’s any memories attached to an image that stands out to me it’s probably when me and my friend were riding the Ubahn in Berlin drunk and everyone got off the train as it announced it was the final stop me and my friend were convinced we had one more stop to go and the train was empty so we started tagging up all the inside of the carriage as it pulled into a holding tunnel and me and my friend just looked at each other like it was game over we were trying to hide all the paint cans down our pants thinking feds were coming haha, the driver came past said something then walked to the other end of the train got in and drove it back into the station and we just ran off.
What could you see yourself doing if photography wasn’t a part of your life?
I’d probably do more or less the same just without any pictures to show for it. If I didn’t shoot film & saved all the money spent on cameras I’d have probably have enough to put a deposit down on a house ahaha!
Anyone in the scene that you want to shout out?
Lilsaucyknuckles one of the sickest animators in the game and I feel he’s not recognised enough for his work ethic (also Cdawg is basically my unpaid PA I can’t lie he helps me through alotta technical issues work & life related) and BABMAG of course!
Any words of wisdom for a photographer starting out?
Don’t shoot film unless you’ve got a wedge in your bank account or you’re not afraid of the 5 finger discount!
Where do you want to take your creativity next?
I got an idea in mind for a wavy illustrative photography book that’s a bit like a journal and map of my mind but I don’t feel that my skills are quite there yet to be able to execute it the way I want to. I’d love to get into more fashion based & behind the scenes photography for sure so if you’re reading this and need some pics shot holla @ ya boy!